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Pawlenty to Lead Financial Services Roundtable

Pawlenty to Lead Financial Services Roundtable

Tim Pawlenty, who had his eye on the White House recently and who was also considered by Governor Mitt Romney as a running mate, has accepted the head of The Financial Services Roundtable – a bank lobbying group. Like Romney, Pawlenty has spent some time as a governor; specifically, Minnesota. Not only that, but he served time in Congress and at one tie was the mayor of Dallas.

What is Roundtable?

Made up of various groups, including the American Bankers Association and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the Financial Services Roundtable has increasingly been putting pressure on those who support Dodd Frank; in fact, it continues to work to limit the impact on the industry of some provisions of the financial reform law. Still, it also serves as the primary group that is charged with ensuring transparency and ethics are built in.

In total, the group represents 100 of the largest banking and financial services companies, including Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America. Surprisingly, it’s a relatively small group that accomplishes these goals. And Pawlenty, who’s 51, is believed to earn a salary of $1.8 million a year. He begins earning that salary when he clocks in officially on November 1.

No Big Secret

Apparently, this wasn’t a big secret in the Romney camp. His announcement on Thursday made mention of the connection,

My work with Mitt has been a privilege…he has my full support and continued faith in his vision and policies.

He then said he informed Romney “days earlier”. He also said one of the stipulations he had to make was that he would decline any other position in the Romney administration should that come to pass, including stepping down as the national co-chair of Romney’s current presidential bid. Romney called Pawlenty a “dear friend” and said he supported what he knows will be the advancement of the “integrity of our financial system (that) is vital to the future of our country”. Pawlenty then said,

Few industries have more impact on the entire economy – and on the lives of average Americans – than financial services. I realize there is still work to be done to continue to earn confidence.

Clearly, if Romney wins, it’s going to be a formidable pairing and a powerful asset to a Republican White House. If Obama is re-elected, however, it could make for some tense moments. Remember, Pawlenty has been very vocal in his bitterness towards the President’s healthcare reform. Not only that, but, in an address at last month’s Republican National Convention, Pawlenty said,

President Obama isn’t as bad as people say, he’s actually worse.

As mentioned, this is a small group, but it has its share of tension as other financial regulatory boards have different motives. As one analyst said,

The groups often coordinate efforts but they also are competitors when it comes to establishing…the voice of the banking and financial services industry in Washington.


Not surprising either is talk that Pawlenty basically improves the collective roundtable in political goings-on in that he brings with me a lot of networking opportunities. In the meantime, though, a meeting has been scheduled for this week as Pawlenty and the board meet with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The purpose, said the presser, is to discuss various national economic policies.

If you’re surprised that Pawlenty would agree to this position, you’re not alone. If you’re familiar with his brief campaigning efforts last year, you know he targeted more traditional ideals and groups. Many say the irony’s not lost in that he related to the “working man”, yet he will be earning more than $1 million every year – in fact, he was raised in a traditional “blue collar” family. His father was a truck driver who instilled Christian values in his family. Still, Pawlenty is said to be the perfect voice for the still-struggling financial sector.

Tim’s leadership, vision and ability to find common ground make him the right choice to represent the broad membership of the Financial Services Roundtable,

the group’s chairman, Tom Wilson, said after the announcement was made on Thursday. He then went on to explain Pawlenty has a solid understanding of the goal of the board – to improve the financial considerations for Americans.

Pawlenty new job comes on the heels of the current leader’s retirement announcement. Steve Bartlett, a former Republican congressman from Texas, has been at the helm since 1999 though announced he would be retiring earlier this year.

Popularity Contest?

If Pawlenty is true to his word, it’s going to be an interesting political dynamic. A few years ago, Pawlenty, in response to a reporter’s questions on popularity, he said,

Popularity boils down to some basic things. No. 1: Do the right thing. No. 2: Be fair-minded in tone. No. 3: Be likable and treat people well. Over time, I’ve learned that people – even if they don’t necessarily agree with you — will cut you some slack and respect you as long as they feel you’re being fair-minded and thoughtful.

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